Your brain processes things at two levels: conscious and subconscious (not unconscious).

Conscious thought demands information, cost and benefit analysis, pros and cons. We demand more information. But more information does not equal understanding. Understanding vast amounts of information is very difficult. You can still draw the wrong conclusion, especially under stress.

Worst of all, decisions take a lot longer to make. What if we make a mistake? If I just had a little more information I could make a risk free decision. Analysis paralysis. You can also make a wrong conclusion and stick to it because that is what all the information points to.

The problem is, things are never black and white when dealing with the real world.

Unconscious thought is very powerful, can process multiple streams of information and give a "gut" decision much quicker. The problem is that this decision making process can also be prejudiced by your past experiences and biases; including fear and survival instincts.

These are the kinds of things discussed in Malcolm Gladwell's book "Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking".  In the book he quotes Sigmund Freud:

"When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or profession, the decision should come from within ourselves. In the important decisions of personal life, we should be governed, I think, by the deep inner needs of our nature."

In Business

You need to listen to your hunches and intuition, but understand how they are impacted by your past, biases and fears. You can validate your ideas through analysis.

Conversely, when necessary do the analysis, but listen to what your gut is telling you as well.

Remember that knowledge and ability without passion is unlikely to lead to happiness or prolonged success.

Using Information Technology

Use technology to monitor a very limited set of measurements (KPIs) that are the most important to you.

On a periodic basis look at more details and review if these are still the most important measures to you. Do not keep your head buried in the analysis. Use your real world experience.

Don't use technology to saturate yourself with information and data. Use it to derive knowledge that will help you make better and faster decisions; not slow you down.


Ultimately the most successful entrepreneurs and business owners focus on a few things, do them well and with passion. Understanding how decisions are made and using the most appropriate tools for the problem at hand will lead to business agility; something that is essential in today's marketplace.

Remember, not making a decision is often worse than making a wrong decision and adjusting later. Avoid information overload.